State Schools Superintendent Hedges at Full Time Return to Classroom — The Illinoize

As the coronavirus pandemic reaches a full year of lockdowns, stress, and e-learning, the Superintendent of Schools says kids should be back in the classroom for in-person learning, but only when it is “absolutely safe to do so.”

Amid local controversies around the state about the re-opening of schools full-time, State Superintendent Dr. Carmen Ayala says, currently, the vast majority of districts are having students in the classroom either part time or fully in-person.

Testifying before the House Appropriations Committee for Elementary and Secondary Education Monday, Ayala said there are more districts beginning in-person instruction.

“Currently, we have about 90% of our districts reporting that they are in-person, through either a hybrid or complete in-person instruction,” Ayala told the committee. “That represents about 89% of all the 1.9 million students that we have across the state. More and more, we are having districts come back on board. They’re getting ready, you know, this month. Next month, we’re going to be seeing more districts.”

Rep. Blaine Wilhour (R-Beecher City) pressed Ayala on whether students should be in the classroom, and she said they should, but with caveats.

“We have messaged continuously that in-person instruction, when it is absolutely safe to do so, is the goal,” Ayala said. “That is what we want to see, more and more across our schools in Illinois, again, as long as it is safe for students and for staff.”

Wilhour said he believes all schools should be open.

“I think the science and the real-world data of schools [that have] been doing this, for some in other countries, all the way back to May show that it is safe and it’s clearly in their best interest,” he said.

Ayala did not specify whether she believes conditions are safe now for students to return to in-person learning full time or identify any benchmarks for what would make the situation completely safe. She implied the conditions may be different in each district.

“We have worked very strongly throughout this entire pandemic in recognizing that we have 852 school districts across the state that are very unique and diverse and special.,” Ayala said. “We have really worked at encouraging the in-person instruction as much as possible. But, needing to recognize that every community has their uniqueness to be able to come in fully in-person.”

Meanwhile, parents at Geneva schools in the far western suburbs protested outside their school board meeting Monday night urging the school district to hold in-person learning five days a week. Some parents pointed out at their meeting Monday night no districts around Geneva are in person five days a week. Geneva is one of multiple communities around the state with organized groups working for full time in-person learning.

We have asked the Illinois State Board of Education for more clarification into Ayala’s comments.

via The Illinoize

March 9, 2021 at 06:09AM

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